Summary: The story of the prodigal son is presented as an example of repentance.
Forgive Me For I Have Sinned
At some time in the distant past, someone decided to divide a circle into 360 equal parts and call them “degrees.” Terminology related to the circle has wormed its way into our language. For instance, when we come to a street corner and make a right or left turn, it is called a 90 degree turn. If we want to make a “u”turn and go in the opposite direction, that is called a 180 degree turn.
The bible has a similar concept that describes a 180 degree turn. It is called “repentance.” This word in its various forms is used over 100 times in the bible and examples of the concept are used many more times. Those include David after he was rebuked by Nathan for his sins of adultery and murder, Jonah after his three days and three nights as fish food, and the prodigal son.
This morning we want to focus on the story of the prodigal son found in Luke chapter 15. But before we go there it would probably be beneficial to define the term. Repentance has been defined in a number of ways but they all seem to boil down to this idea. 1.
Repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life. We normally think of repentance when talking to someone about becoming a Christian, as we should. However, there is considerable emphasis in the bible concerning repentance by those who are already members of the family of God. That is where I want to focus my remarks this morning.
That is where the prodigal son comes in. In Luke 15:11, we are told that a man had two sons. The faithful older brother and the younger, selfish, spoiled brat of a scoundrel. (Of course that was just the opinion of the older brother.) However, we need to realize that they were both sons of the father who lived in his house and had a relationship with him.
Let’s read together Luke 15:11-16. This is the first half of the story. This is a son who has taken the blessing of his father, his inheritance and squandered it and has become impoverished and in need. Then we are told in verse 17, “then he came to himself.” He looked at himself and asked himself, as Dr. Phil would say, “Is this working for you?” NO!!!
Now let’s analyze the prodigal son’s actions that might reflect repentance.
1. He realized the truth of his sorry condition. He had abandoned his home and squandered his blessings. He realized he needed to change. He was going in the wrong direction . . . FAST! Depression has been defined as someone who is lying at the bottom of a hole looking down. That is where the prodigal son found himself, about as far down as he could get.
2. Before we can repent, we have to realize the need to repent.
In the case of the prodigal son, his need to repent was obvious and for those of us in the church that is sometimes true as well. Perhaps someone is living a life that brings public reproach on the church such as being an alcoholic, an adulterer or a thief. When they are found out they bring reproach on themselves, the church and God.
However, at other times the need is not so obvious. Those of us in the church generally lead upstanding and respectable lives. But we have to realize that we too are sinners. While our sins might not be those of commission, something we do that we know is wrong, they could be sins of omission, not doing those things we know we need to do, worshiping with the saints every Sunday, giving liberally of our means, helping those about us, loving one another in a tangible way.
Sometimes we are guilty of self righteousness . . . perhaps not as blatant as the Pharisee mentioned by Jesus in Luke 18:12-13 when he looked at the tax collector in the synagogue with him and said, “God I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.” The Pharisee is asking himself, “Why do I need to repent? I am a righteous person.” You see that is the problem. Many of us in the church look at ourselves, compare ourselves to those outside the body of Christ and ask ourselves, “Why do I need to repent? I am a righteous person.” Brethren, quite simply, that is the sin of self righteousness and we must repent of it.
3. Before we repent, we must realize the seriousness of our situation.